Legal, Technical Frameworks To Fight Piracy Highlight Sports Anti-Piracy Summit Sessions
Consumer awareness, collaboration, and constantly evolving technology are key
Top anti-piracy–technology providers took to the stage at the 2019 Sports Anti-Piracy Summit in Mexico City, and moderator Simon Hannah, partnership director, Friend MTS, began the session with the provocative observation that some of the piracy actually begins within the organization whose streams are pirated.
“I see a lot of content that originates from the broadcaster, as there are video feeds of games where you can hear the presenters chatting to somebody in the production truck,” he said. “There needs to be a zero-trust approach to combating piracy, and security is a living, active beast that requires constant monitoring for leaks.”
Hanna espoused a “glass-to-glass” approach to security that begins at the camera acquiring the content and passes all the way through to the edge device that delivers the content to the consumer.
He breaks piracy into three main types: the soft piracy of concurrency management, whereby consumers share log-in credentials; content re-streaming, where the primary source of the content is re-encoded and uploaded to the internet; and screen scrapping, where a desktop OTT player is hacked into with free tools and then uploaded to the internet. He demonstrated how the latter could be done in a matter of seconds and allow illegal content to be streamed to sites like Twitch and Facebook.
Ether City CEO Rodrigo Arrigoni noted that monitoring is the biggest part of anti-piracy efforts, with take-down tools tapping into data so that they can intelligently find the most important ports to shut down at any given moment.
“With open-source software, a pirate can be up and running in five minutes, but there is also another part of the market that is booming: illegal set top boxes,” he said. Some markets, such as Brazil, see pervasive availability, in consumer-electronics stores, of illegal set-top boxes that include pirated subscriptions to pay-TV services. Some areas of Latin America, he noted, do a better job of keeping those set-top boxes off the streets.
Cristobal Florenzano, executive director, NED, said that professional pirates are very sophisticated and even have redundant live-stream operations in place so that, if one stream is shut down, five or six more are in place.
“Also,” he added, “they are moving out of the open web and into downloadable apps that can transmit games to smart TVs. It’s quite complex. We also need high-skilled operations that attack their funding models because there are people who make a living on the basis of re-streaming pirated content.”
Florenzano also noted a need to pressure the mainstream internet and server providers because they are including pirated websites within their networks. “They are allowing and enabling the survival of these websites, and the big corporate players are turning a blind eye to something they should collaborate on to end. These apps have mainstream payment processes and can compete with a user experience that is professional and available in app stores of smart TVs. We need to take it very seriously because they do damage to the formal and established OTT offerings.”
Pirated streams on social networks like Facebook are becoming less of an issue because the networks make it easier to locate and shut down illegal streams. Florenzano said that private sharing, however, is still an issue: pirates have found ways to hide the content by hiding a part of the video frame.
According to Smart Protection CEO Javier Perea, a comprehensive approach to combating piracy requires the use of multiple technology tools. But it can’t be too complex, because, if it takes an hour to shut down a stream, that is often too late to effectively protect a live sports event.
“Technology,” he said, “is not going to fix the problem unless you change the tools and make an affordable investment [in fighting piracy] that works for your organization.”
In addition, the pirates are constantly evolving and figuring out new ways to defeat the tools designed to defeat them. Within a matter of weeks, a solution that proved effective can be rendered useless.
“Collaboration is very important,” said Florenzano. “Watermarked content, for example, is shared with different countries and broadcasters, and some of them are not integrating the watermarked signals, [allowing] pirates [to] grab it there. That makes the fight more difficult. And there needs to be better integration by the industry as a whole. A collective effort has to be done as an industry to try to solve this problem.”
The Legal Challenges
Ivo Gagliuffi, president, board of directors, National Institute for the Defense of Free Competition and the Protection of Intellectual Property (INDECOPI) in Peru, noted a new issue with piracy: digital. It’s important to raise awareness of piracy, he said, so that consumers don’t see it as something that is normal.
“We are not waiting for people to file a report,” he said. “When we see piracy, we try to act quickly. And we need to talk about piracy so that kids understand what it is.”
Irely Aquique, divisional director, intellectual property protection, IMPI, discussed the approach to legally fighting piracy in Mexico. The country’s Supreme Court has recognized that IMPI has the right to block illegal streams.
“It was great; we were concerned that they would say we have no jurisdiction,” she said. “We are working on some cases right now and have evolved after the court resolution so we can apply measures that are important for the industry.”
One high-profile case was shutting down SportFlix, a Netflix equivalent that offered a wide range of content. It used not only illegal streams but also the logos of events like the Olympics and F1.
“It is important to understand that this is a matter of respect,” she said. “It is about intellectual-property rights. As long as consumers don’t understand that, there will be demand, and there will a supply.”
Dolores Sánchez, penal judge, organized crime, Poder Judicial, Uruguay, discussed the country’s battle against piracy and a complaint received about a website that was broadcasting without authorization of event owners. The first challenge was that there was no precedent related to blocking a website in Uruguay (and the intellectual-property laws dated back to 1934).
“That allowed us to act and fight that crime on the internet,” she said. “At the same time, the law allows the judge to implement precautionary measures so that the crime does not continue. When it comes to those measures, we have to consider three points: the right to shut it down, that there is no violation of other rights, and that there are counter precautionary measures not only asking for money but [also demanding that] illegal activity stop because it is impacting someone. It was appropriate, proportional, and people from Uruguay would not have access to that website.”
Maria Pilar Rodríguez Fernández, public prosecutor, cybercrime issues, Fiscaliá España in Madrid, discussed the global challenges and how local courts can fight those intellectual-property violations.
“In Spain, we have been successful because of international cooperation as infringed content is in the cloud,” she said. “Five years ago, I didn’t know what the cloud is, but now it is decentralized servers in different locations. So, as soon as we see there is illicit broadcasting, we get in touch with the police in Europe. The advantage is, we have Europol, where we can share knowledge and cases that are related. That should, of course, be exported to the Americas. I don’t know why it doesn’t happen, but it has to.”
Sanchez said that, from a political and state perspective, this is also a tax issue.
“This is money that is taken from the state so it’s not just against the other but against me, myself,” she said. “Globally, we have to fight against it, and the cooperation among countries is fundamental.”